David Beckham signed off in style on Wednesday night in what was probably his last appearance at Old Trafford. In a fitting tribute by picking up that scarf he reinforced the bond between himself and the fans that adored him so much all those years ago, but with the Red Knight’s cause hoping for investment from Beckham now, or at the very least for him to become a figurehead for their cause, what was supposed to be a unifying gesture now has the potential to turn into a farce.
Beckham’s post-match interview was quite touching in a way, he’s always seemed a genuinely nice bloke and this occasion proved no different. I’m sure he wasn’t the only person around the country with a tear in their eye like Beckham had during Gabriel Clarke’s rude probing for an emotional outburst throughout the short segment. By picking up the green and yellow scarf he both stuck to his down to earth roots and principles whilst showing the Utd faithful he still cared what they had to say, what they thought and what they aspired to – in short, a very fitting and dignified way to exit the home of so many fond memories for the one time England Captain.
Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has sought to distance himself from the movement and has been cryptic in his stance on the matter; Beckham on Wednesday was anything but. Beckham is not a stupid man, and is often wrongly and irritatingly implied as being one, but he would have known the significance of his actions and would have been fully aware what the headlines the next day would be. The anti-Glazer movement has garnered the support of the world’s most famous footballer, quite the coup, and they’ve now called for Beckham’s involvement to take a more fiscal or prominent role in the supporter-led protests.
The Manchester United Supporters Trust (MUST), a group of wealthy and prominent members of society, as well as staunch Utd fans, are now seeking to ask Beckham for investment. MUST Chief Executive Duncan Drasdo has stated that “I don’t see any reason why he would not be an investor in our proposal. Why would he not be?” Now this puts Beckham in a rather tricky position, if Beckham does invest it shows he’s been held to ransom somewhat by public opinion and if he doesn’t, it makes his gesture look hollow and devoid of meaning by his failure to back up his actions.
MUST spokesperson Sean Bones also added that Beckham “is the type of person we would love to see become a Red Knight”. This is the sort of pressure and attention Beckham could unduly do without as he seeks to nail down a spot in Capello’s World Cup plans, which his limited role at present at Milan could make it more difficult.
You do get the feeling that other senior players at Old Trafford from the mouthy (Gary Neville), to the dignified and measured (Giggs) to the downright silent (Scholes) may wish to join Beckham in trying to set an example, that they will not stand idly by while the club they love is torn apart from the inside due to incompetence from above, but they can’t as it would be both inappropriate and they have been banned by the club from doing so. Sportsmen and politics are not things that go hand in hand and they are clearly not a good mix, but what Beckham did should be seen as a gesture and nothing more.
Beckham’s involvement should see an escalation in their activities and worldwide support but all the same it would be wrong for current players to get involved, whilst the movement remains in its relative infancy at least. They are likely to toe the party line much like Chief Executive at Utd, David Gill has done, much like you would and should expect, but throw Beckham into the mix and that’s a whole different story.
It looks like it’s going to be a story that’s set to run, for some time at least, until there is some action on Beckham’s part, whether it comes in the form of a public statement or actual investment remains to be seen, but it’s completely unfair to place this pressure and hang quotes such as the ones written above around his neck like this, and what the MUST group have done in public is downright irresponsible without giving Beckham time to consider his next step.
Eric Cantona has been mooted as another former Utd player to throw his considerable weight behind the movement. This would clearly be a much better fit, for his eccentric style would make him an ideal poster boy. With Beckham there is only so far you can go, he’s effective at it, as the Olympic bid showed, but what they clearly want above all else is money, something Beckham can provide on a much larger scale that perhaps Cantona can’t.
It seems unfair to ask this of Beckham when all he was initially trying to do was show his support for the plight of the club and the predicament the fans find themselves in – after the latest developments, he may regret ever picking up that scarf in protest in the first place now. What’s that saying about taking a good thing and ruining it?
What does everyone else think about this – should Beckham invest, or would that cause too many problems?